High cost of free speech

Right pays dearly for in­tem­per­ate words while left gets free pass

The Washington Times Daily - - Opinion - By R. Em­mett Tyrrell Jr. By War­ren L. Dean Jr.

For a cou­ple of years now, I have been talk­ing about the Kul­tursmog, the ut­terly pol­luted state of our po­lit­i­cal cul­ture. Those who pol­lute it are lib­er­als. Kul­tursmog is the only form of pol­lu­tion they ap­prove of, but they ap­prove of it might­ily, and, of course, they are the chief con­trib­u­tors to its nox­ious fumes. Now they are us­ing it to kill off an Amer­i­can value prized by mil­lions of Amer­i­cans down through the cen­turies: free speech. As I say in an­other con­text, we are watch­ing the death of lib­er­al­ism.

Through Me­dia Mat­ters for Amer­ica, MSNBC, Think Progress and var­i­ous other out­fits, lib­er­als are try­ing to kill off talk ra­dio. They have made feints in this di­rec­tion for years, for in­stance in en­cour­ag­ing the re­turn of the Fair­ness Doc­trine, which is any­thing but fair. Now they are aim­ing at the heart of talk ra­dio, Rush Lim­baugh, and, as col­lat­eral dam­age, Sean Han­nity, Mark Levin and the whole con­ser­va­tive ca­bal. As I men­tioned last week, Rush in the course of his 15 hours of di­a­logue each week made a joke of du­bi­ous joc­u­lar­ity about the fe­lic­i­tously named San­dra Fluke. All hell broke loose. To my sur­prise — and I sus­pect to Rush’s — it turns out that his joke was al­most taste­ful and in­deed el­e­vated in com­par­i­son with the taste­less scur­ril­ity di­rected at con­ser­va­tive women.

The clown Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a “dumb t——” and a “c——.” He jokes about Rick San­to­rum’s wife us­ing a sex de­vice. Ed Schultz has called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut,” an­tic­i­pat­ing Rush’s ref­er­ence to Ms. Fluke. Keith Ol­ber­mann is as foul, and doubt­less there are oth­ers. This is the lan­guage reg­u­larly re­sorted to by the left, and one would think that these rev­e­la­tions would put an end to the or­ches­trated cri­sis over Rush, es­pe­cially be­cause it was a lib­eral, the ad­mirable Kirsten Pow­ers, who turned up these in­stances of garbage­spiel. But no, the cri­sis con­tin­ues.

I can un­der­stand why. Talk ra­dio is al­most ex­clu­sively con­ser­va­tive ra­dio. For some rea­son, lib­er­als can­not make it in the talk-show mar­ket. Even when they come up with heav­ily sub­si­dized for­mats like Air Amer­ica, lib­er­als floun­der. This, I sus­pect, is be­cause they can­not talk about pol­i­tics with­out as­sum­ing a grim voice and in­ter­lac­ing their di­a­logue with scat­o­log­i­cal ref­er­ences. Have you ever heard them? Have you read their blogs? They have sew­ers for brains.

My col­league Jef­frey Lord con­nected the dots Tues­day on the Amer­i­can Spec­ta­tor’s Web site, Spec­ta­tor.org. Us­ing the in­dis­pens­able Daily Caller, he pointed to the Caller’s ev­i­dence that Me­dia Mat­ters vir­tu­ally writes the scripts for such MSNBC em­i­nen­toes as Al Sharp­ton and the dolt Mr. Schultz. More­over, Me­dia Mat­ters does it with a vast mound of Ge­orge Soros’ money. Most of what Mr. Sharp­ton and Mr. Schultz say is men­da­cious and in­fan­tile, and some­times it is worse. Mr. Lord pre­sented for Spec­ta­tor readers some of Mr. Sharp­ton’s in­di­gestible morsels. The morsels came from be­fore he linked up with Mr. Soros and MSNBC, but that is all the more rea­son he should not be pos­ing as a com­men­ta­tor on cable news. He has no claim to be­ing a jour­nal­ist. Per­haps he can claim to be a per­son­al­ity, but if that is the case, the way he be­came a per­son­al­ity is sim­i­lar to how the late Ge­orge Wal­lace be­came a per­son­al­ity. It was through racism, and as a per­son­al­ity, Wal­lace did not get far.

On our web­site, Mr. Lord has pre­served the tapes of Mr. Sharp­ton in­vet­er­ately us­ing the N-word. He uses terms like “white in­ter­loper” and “cracker.” He refers to Aris­to­tle — yes, that Aris­to­tle — as “a Greek homo.” So far to the left has the Kul­tursmog gone that it finds Rush con­tro­ver­sial but finds Mr. Sharp­ton a bud­ding Wal­ter Cronkite. In truth, as Mr. Lord has demon­strated, Mr. Sharp­ton made his way to na­tional fame as a racist rab­ble-rouser.

Talk ra­dio is af­flicted by sev­eral thou­sand so­cial iso­lates sit­ting around the house in their un­der­wear tap­ping out irate mes­sages to the spon­sors of Rush and his co­horts. They do it on their dig­i­tal tools, Twit­ter, Face­book and blogs. They rely on the same men­tal­ity as the Oc­cu­piers. Their com­plaints to spon­sors amount to dirty tricks. They are not clients or cus­tomers. They are a pain in the neck but noth­ing more. Even­tu­ally, this too will pass, but in the mean­time, things will be tricky for talk ra­dio — un­less it mounts a coun­ter­at­tack on Me­dia Mat­ters for Amer­ica, MSNBC (whose owner is Com­cast) and Think Progress. Just a thought.

Con­ser­va­tives from Washington, D.C. to Palm Beach, Fla., have been busy try­ing to re­de­fine our na­tional de­bate on health care. They act like they want to turn it into a ref­er­en­dum on whether we need a cure for foot-in-mouth dis­ease. Enough, al­ready. There are im­por­tant is­sues at stake here.

Like whether the sys­tem is work­ing. AARP’S most re­cent bul­letin has this in­trigu­ing ob­ser­va­tion: “The num­ber of pa­tients who die each year from hospi­tal er­rors is equal to four jumbo jets crash­ing each week.” If true (you have to con­sider the source), that means we have a real prob­lem.

Not­with­stand­ing all the blather you hear from the reg­u­la­tors at the Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, we have an ex­traor­di­nar­ily safe and re­li­able air trans­porta­tion sys­tem. Why? It’s not just be­cause of the good folks at the Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion, even though they help oc­ca­sion­ally. It is pri­mar­ily be­cause of the fact that we have a mostly dereg­u­lated air­line in­dus­try, where con­sumers have real choices. Ev­ery air­line CEO knows that if his com­pany gets a bad rep­u­ta­tion for safety, it is cur­tains for the com­pany. Think Air Florida, think Pan Am.

So it has be­come com­mon­place for the air­line in­dus­try to carry its pas­sen­gers hun­dreds of bil­lions of miles ev­ery year with­out a sin­gle fatal­ity or se­ri­ous in­jury. That is a re­ally good thing. No one in their right mind would want to run the risks AARP is talk­ing about.

Un­like air­lines, our hospi­tal sys­tem is in dan­ger of be­com­ing a gov­ern­ment­man­dated, - reg­u­lated, - funded, -sub­si­dized and -spon­sored mon­u­ment to the in­ef­fi­ciency of big-gov­ern­ment so­lu­tions. The more Washington gets in­volved, the less ef­fi­cient the sys­tem be­comes. In an ef­fort to en­sure that no one gets left out, gov­ern­ment even­tu­ally will make sure that no one gets good care. The irony is that the Supreme Court will soon de­cide whether we have any choice in this. What a farce. As com­pet­i­tive mar­kets al­ways re­mind us, choice is all that mat­ters.

While Rome is burn­ing, con­ser­va­tives are fid­dling with women’s con­tra­cep­tives. Those ap­par­ently are go­ing to be in­sured be­cause the left con­sid­ers them to be pre­ven­tive care, which must mean (bar­ring a le­git­i­mate med­i­cal need) preg­nancy is a dis­ease to them. They like to call it in­sur­ance, even though there is noth­ing con­tin­gent about sex­ual ac­tiv­ity. What they are do­ing is ask­ing health in­sur­ers to sub­si­dize nor­mal hu­man be­hav­ior. And then they are shocked, just shocked, that health in­sur­ance is be­com­ing so ex­pen­sive.

At some point, some­one who is ac­tu­ally ill will go with­out needed health care be­cause his pre­mi­ums are sub­si­diz­ing healthy hu­man ac­tiv­ity. That is ap­par­ently the way the left thinks. It is now the way gov­ern­ment ap­proaches health care.

All this largess, of course, is brought to you by a gov­ern­ment whose bal­ance sheet reads like a Greek tragedy and whose in­come state­ment is even worse — more than 40 cents of ev­ery dol­lar it now spends is bor­rowed. The Congress that passed the health care man­dates could not even pass a bud­get, since it was spend­ing money it did not have so fast it could not add it all up. Un­doubt­edly, when gov­ern­ment fin­ishes do­ing to health care what it did to real es­tate, it will go boldly where it has gone be­fore and bail out ev­ery­one all over again. It is just pa­per money, af­ter all. Call it the “what, me worry” school of fis­cal pol­icy.

Con­ser­va­tives need to keep these is­sues in some per­spec­tive. The tes­ti­mony of a law stu­dent, whether right or wrong, is not im­por­tant. What mat­ters is life and lib­erty, the pur­suit of san­ity and gov­ern­ment’s en­croach­ment on all three. Let’s fo­cus on that for a change.

IL­LUS­TRA­TION BY HUNTER

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